Joyce receives Froggatt award for making fast decision on Johnny Depp’s dogs

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Australian Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Barnaby Joyce looks at Australian beef as he visits at a supermarket to promote Australian products in Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 2015. Joyce is in Japan to promote Australian agriculture after the signing of the Transpacific Partnership last month. Reuters/Issei Kato

Australia’s Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce has finally received due credits for acting fast and decisively in regard to Hollywood actor Johnny Depp’s Yorkshire terriers, Pistol and Boo, which were brought into the country without regard for the quarantine laws. He has been bestowed the Principled Decision-Making Froggatt award by the Invasive Species Council for his presence of mind.

“It might have seemed like a bit of a joke at the time but Barnaby Joyce did the right thing by enforcing Australia’s strict quarantine laws after discovering Mr Depp’s dogs Pistol and Boo had been brought into the country in an apparent breach of quarantine laws,” the Invasive Species Council's CEO Andrew Cox said in a statement.

The Froggatt Award, named after Australian entomologist Walter Froggatt, is bestowed annually. Froggatt had raised his voice against the introduction of cane toad in Australia in 1930s for controlling beetle infestations.

Cox said that standing up against Depp’s dogs would not have been enough to fetch the award for Joyce. It was guaranteed only after he implemented new controls earlier this month to check marine biofouling on vessels arriving in Australia. 

In May, Joyce had given the actor and his wife Amber Heard a deadline of 50 hours to take the dogs back to America or else they would be euthanised.  Joyce admitted that his stance might cost him his invitation to the premier of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film, which was being shot in Queensland at the time. “It’s time that Pistol and Boo buggered off back to the United States,” Joyce had said then.

An online petition, which was signed by more than 600 people in the first hour, was launched, urged the minister to save the dogs. Joyce was also accused by the Labor party of “grandstanding the media” and was referred to as a “sweaty, big-gutted man from Australia” by Depp.

Heard will be required to appear before the court in Queensland on Apr. 18, 2016.

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